Homeless in Seattle

What’s amazing to me, coming from the east coast, is the amount of homeless individuals there are here. The reasons are varying, depending on who you talk to and what side of the aisle they vote on, but the reason doesn’t change the truth.

New York City has had a gradual increase in homelessness almost every year since stats on the subject have been recorded. Manhattan and it’s surrounding boroughs have sharply climbed in homeless numbers over the past 5 years as did Seattle. The issues can be attributed to Democratic or Socialist or Republican matters, but again it doesn’t change anything. That’s just finger pointing and blaming.

In Seattle, the homeless shamelessly camp on city sidewalks and in public parks. It’s completely legal since it’s public grounds. This may or may not be true in New York City, but I don’t have to look it up, because there are 2 huge differences between the streets of New York and the streets of Seattle that make why homelessness feels like a bigger issue here in the Emerald City.

Before those differences, it’s interesting to point out that the total number of homeless in New York City is around 66,000. In Seattle it’s about 12,000. Not surprisingly, these are almost the same percentage of individuals, approximately .03% of the population. Without looking into every other major American city, I would imagine this to be true across the country. It’s a product of the general population of America. Certain people refuse to take their medication, some people have fallen on seriously hard time, and others have let their addictions rule their life.

But Seattle FEELS different. The homeless here don’t try and hit you up with stories like they do in DC (my sister is in the hospital and I’m trying to get bus fare) and they don’t accost you like they do in New York, shaking a cup of change in your face and making you feel guilty. They just kind of hover about, signs adorned, or sometimes leaning against the bench next to them, too weak to even bother holding it. You can feel their lost dreams, lost among the brackish sloughs of Puget Sound.

The two main differences between New York and Seattle are vehicles and violence. In New York City, many people don’t even own a car. Walking is a main transportation option. People are out constantly walking many blocks from their home to shops, work, or other appointments. You tend to live and work close by and your doctors and other appointments tend to be close by. You become near and dear to your neighborhood.

There’s a lot of driving in the Emerald City. It’s a newer city and lots of complexes and other communal style living situations have parking, which allows for more cars. Without walking you don’t necessarily have to come face to face with as many homeless folks. There isn’t the strong need for public transportation, eliminating spots where people can congregate. So it seems like there’s more homeless because the city is small. The areas like Pike’s Place Market where people congregate are fewer, leading to more homeless to be concentrated in areas where people are guaranteed to be walking.

This leads to the violence part. When you feel territorial about your neighborhood, if someone without a home made a tent out of found items on your block, the tendency in New York City to get that person to leave is much higher. I one time witnessed a woman of small stature get harassed by a homeless man of much bigger stature in New York City. She turned and punched him in the face, knocking him on his ass. I haven’t spent as much time downtown Seattle as I have in New York, but this doesn’t feel like a west coast thing to do.

It’s so laid back as compared to New York, that the violence from residents just seemingly doesn’t exist. For someone who has lived here their whole life they may feel different, but the vibe to me is true. I feel that the homeless feel like more of a problem here because the residents of the city aren’t necessarily going to take action to get rid of them (at least on “their” block).

The reasons still don’t change the truth. There are homeless people. Lots of them. America in general lacks the programs to identify and assist individuals who may have mental health problems. Instead of addressing the issue, we blame Democrats or Republicans, City Council or the Mayor, or the lady up the street who feels bad enough to make some of them dinner, and wait around for someone else to fix the problems that we ourselves have created.

How did we create homelessness? Being part of this whacky machine called America is the problem. It is one for all and all for one here. Every day is a grind and all of us are just trying to scrape by daily. The wealth gap is growing, at this point, exponentially, and taxing the rich more won’t do a damn thing unless we convince them by doing so will somehow make them MORE money. What were doing is standing on one side of the aisle and screaming for change, just like the homeless we can’t stand to see. The truth is we know how close we are to being in their shoes and it’s simply to much to bear.

Anthony Norman White - Freelance Writer

Historically Repetitious Inaccuracy Causes Generational Repression, Again

I was at a dinner party recently when someone almost 10 years younger than me exclaimed, “There’s no way I’m in the millennial generation. I didn’t have a cell phone until I was 16!” It was not received as anything but truth. Everyone agreed.

It had a profound impact on me. I left that party depressed, irritated, and sick to my stomach, despite the fantastic food.

If you were born between the years of 1981 and 1996, you’re a millennial. And it’s a soft border, meaning you might be a millennial if you are born on either cusp. The millennial generation has an odd and bizarre stigma attached to it that is more historically repetitious than accurate. But what that comment from the person at the dinner party illuminates is the control that the previous generation has over millennials. And it’s not Gen X, it’s the Boomers, the only other generation that has equal number of people enveloped inside and they feel threatened as every previous generation of Americans has felt since the 1600’s.

The first Jamestown colony on the New Land that Britain had acquired in what is now Virginia was largely a bust. No crop other than tobacco had grown successfully there and England’s premier tobacco provider was still Spain. Spanish tobacco couldn’t be overthrown by a successor until the King decided to make an announcement that the tobacco from the New Land was much better. This was in an effort to revive his investment and the marketing worked.

As production had to increase the workers that were sent to Jamestown in the first place needed help. They wrote to the King to send some new workers. The King, resourceful as ever, sent a younger generation there, in order to ensure that the farm system was taught to a new group, sustaining his investment long term. Not long after their arrival the letters started pouring back in to him.

King James
King James looking slightly like Tom Waits

The colonists wrote that the new batch of young workers he sent were lazy, unable to be trained, didn’t listen, and were practically no help. This began the American way of complaining about the next generation in order to preserve your own dignity and posterity, as a new batch of individuals is sent to take over.

My grandfather thought my dad’s generation was a bunch of lazy long haired, pot smoking hippies who were glued to their hi- fi stereos. They were, but they also were catalysts for change, ushering in an era where people stood together for what is right. Protests formed for peace, equal rights, and individuality around the country. These are the same baby boomers who are now repressing and propagandizing the Millennials in the same way that they were by the Traditionalist or the Silent Generation.

Make no mistake, not everything since the 1600’s is repetition. This current generation grew up in a socially different time that causes more time in front of a screen than in front of anything else. But what is seldom argued is that the Millennial generation’s world is the world, they grew up inherently global and so there views seem so completely different because they are the first generation to see what they want to see, have all information just a click away and seem generally accepting of all types of people regardless where they are from.

Much in the same way the baby boomer generation was ridiculed by their parents for spending far too much time and energy on rock and roll, radio, and television, this new generation is on their phone. The older generations didn’t grow up with things “going viral” and that term has a negative feel to it, and they themselves find they spend far too much time on their phones and on social platforms. If it’s addicting to them, it must be more addicting to the younger generation because they simply have less experience.

But it’s just not true. It’s always been in our hands and so we adapted much quicker. The issue isn’t addiction from the younger generation, but actually from the older. 62% of Facebook users are over 35, 20% is in the Millennial Generation, and 10% is over 65. All of these generations have had social media the same amount of time. And the numbers are actually pretty similar. The only exception being television. Millennials don’t watch TV they stream off their tablets, phones, and computers. Gen X and the Boomers still watch a few hours of TV every night.

Somehow the TV screen is lost in translation when compared to the cell phone screen.

The Millennials are the first generation to make inclusivity a priority, renewable energy a reality, and social media a tool. These initiatives were largely thought of by a previous generation that wanted to make things better for the next generation, but has now become irate and jealous that it is becoming a possibility. Fabricating things to complain about the next generation is a silly way to show support. But maybe a few of us will use that chip on our shoulder to break the rules all over again.

But how about instead of ridicule there is general support? What if we all worked together instead of drawing a line in the sand of who is right and who is wrong?

The Millennials themselves will be the first to try and weasel out of being part of their own generation. Where does that come from? Handed down from the previous generation trying to prove that their worth is still a worth. If you were born between 1981 and 1996 and you are saying that you are not a millennial you are only being beholden to the previous generations who paved the way and now have shackled you to a slower rate of growth, to their fears, and to their shadows disappearing as the sun sets. You’re buying into 400 years of historically repetitious inaccuracies fueled by tradition instead of truth.

Time to unshackle.

2018 marks the first year we could have a Millennial as president. Young leaders are being elected already. Justin Trudeau of Canada is 46 and Emanuel Macron is 40. The Millennial Generation is now larger than the Baby Boomers and that number will continue to grow larger as the years go by. We are in control. Not monetarily, but in populous and that means that we can start to dictate the direction of this great nation.

If you are already using phrases like “the kids these days” and “back in the day” you are already cementing into place the same repression and historical inaccuracies that previous generations put in place. But it’s not supportive and won’t help us all out long term. The younger generations should use their time and effort to connect with the older generation, to learn where certain things went wrong, and where things went right and accept that wisdom and learn. If everyone was willing to work together we could all be part in making the future of this great nation much brighter.

As long as everyone puts their phones down long enough to listen.

Twizzlers and Solace

Battered sidewalks of diesel are still better than the hospital rank stuck to my shirt collar. Its dark now but just 5:30pm and there is nothing else to do but listen to the rubber of my sneakers complain against my heel. There’s few things to set the mind right, but raw brown liquor and cold sudsy beer should at least be a start. It’s no wonder many seek solace in the spirits, they offer liberation of thought, deep intangible waves of synapses slowed to the gentle lap of a canoe’s wake in a stream.

A shot of whiskey enters and its warmth is comforting. Today there is more to worry about than politics, more to think about than right or left, plenty of other things to occupy my wandering mind other than the most recent Facebook post of an angry Hillary supporter. There is real hurt in this world, real pain, and deep suffering that can only be understood when experienced, and can only be empathized with if you have actually been there yourself.

My life is lived like a fly on the wall, an observer,  a reporter to the way things look in my eyes.  Whether it is sports or culture or both I can only tell the story as I personally see it. Today we have a divided country, not by what is only seen nightly on CNN, but listed on social media, portrayed by everyday people that you and I follow. The “right” won and they seem to incessantly wave an indignant finger in the face of the “left”. The “left” posts on how upset they are by the atrocities of our president elect, followed the next day by their recent outing to a professional sporting event. The smell of rotten privilege comes from both sides, a sickening sweet smell, potent and rife across the country, as unguents and oils are spread on our faces before we gas up our SUV.

Truth is, severe situations will make you think a little harder. Taking yourself out of your comfort zone will spellbind you into thinking a bit differently. I know my role and I am comfortable in it, I would jeopardize all but my own family to get where I know I want to be. I am passionate about my lot in life and although I strive to make it better, I strive first to make it mine.

If you are truly interested in changing this country, if you are interested in education, if you are currently upset with the general zeitgeist of America then I would shut off of the Facebook App and get involved. There are plenty of places and institutions to become involved with, plenty of groups that promote equality and individualism in safe environments. The key is education to those who never had the opportunity to be educated before and there are excellent programs in place for you to become involved with to help spread the word and do some good in your hometown, in your state, in your country. Whatever you are most passionate about there is a place for you. If everyone got involved a little we could all help a lot.

While the whiskey was warm the beer is cold and relaxation washes over me. I have to go back to that room, stand with my hands in my pockets and sweat and bite my nails. I know everything is going to be alright, but I’m not sure how I know. It’s just inherent, like I know the sun will rise, or that I’ll probably finish all the vodka at Annie’s later.

It just means it’s Twizzlers for dinner and solace in writing.

 

Anthony N. White is a writer currently living in Rochester, NY.

He can be heckled on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @Ruthieshusband

Or on Facebook, of course.